Dinniman: Standing for Dogs, Cats & All Pets in Pennsylvania
WEST CHESTER (October 4, 2016) – Until state Senator Andy Dinniman passed “Daniel’s Law” (Act 182 of 2012), it was perfectly legal to euthanize pet animals in Pennsylvania by using exhaust from a vehicle’s tailpipe.
In fact, previously, Pennsylvania’s 1983 Animal Destruction Method Authorization Law, did not only allow carbon-monoxide gassing but even went on to explain how to do it when hooking up a hose to an automobile exhaust. The only legal stipulation was that the carbon monoxide gas not exceed 115 degrees!
“That was beyond unacceptable,” Dinniman said. “To call it cruel and inhumane was a gross understatement. It was not in line with our values as Chester Countians. I was determined to do something about it, and together, we formed a grassroots coalition and we sure did.”
Dinniman embarked on an 18-month effort to change that law – a fight that led to many new friends and allies along the way. One of the most prominent was Daniel the Beagle – a dog that had gained national attention for surviving a euthanasia attempt in an Alabama gas chamber.
Daniel was adopted by Joe Dwyer of Nutley, New Jersey and together they joined Dinniman and hundreds of other supporters for a rally at Thorncroft Equestrian Center in Malvern in November 2011.
“When I witnessed how many people came out to support Daniel’s Law, how much they cared about this issue, and how much they loved their animals – just as I love my dog – it was an inspirational experience,” Dinniman said. “I knew we could get it done, and we would not settle for anything less.”
Led by Dinniman, a grassroots coalition of animal lovers, called, wrote, lobbied and e-mailed lawmakers. It came down to the wire, but on the last day of legislative session, October 17, 2012, the bill passed the Senate and then it passed the House. Later, it was signed by the governor and Daniel’s Law officially became law.
Under Daniel’s Law, Pennsylvania joined more than 20 other states that had banned pet animal gas chambers. In addition, the law prohibited other inhumane methods of pet animal euthanization including:
- High altitude decompression chambers.
- Chemicals like chloroform, ether, halothane and fluothane.
The new law stipulates that euthanasia of cats, dogs, and other household pets be done by injection of an FDA-approved drug, such as sodium pentobarbital, widely considered the most humane method. The injection must be carried out by a euthanasia technician licensed by the State Board of Veterinary Medicine. It also requires veterinarians and animal protection organizations to disclose the specific euthanasia method they use.
“Passing Daniel’s Law is one of the accomplishments that I remain most proud of in the legislature. And I’m proud of it because we did it together. It was a grassroots, community effort that started here in Chester County,” Dinniman said. “My family has had several dogs and we always consider them beloved members of our families. I know many Chester Countians and Pennsylvanians feel the same way.”
For his successful efforts in passing Daniel’s Law, Dinniman was named Humane Senator of the Year in 2013 by the Pennsylvania Chapter of the U.S. Humane Society.
Dinniman, who currently has a rescue poodle named Jagger, continues to be a champion of dogs, cats, pets, and other animals both in Chester County and throughout Pennsylvania.
He helped pass the Pennsylvania Dog Law (Act 119 of 2008), which cracked down on puppy mills by tightening kennel regulations and standards. The next year, he worked to pass Act 38 of 2009, which helps ensure that kennel dogs receive safe and proper medical care.
Currently, he has introduced legislation to both better protect pet animals and their families.
Dinniman’s Senate Bill 594, the Pet Protection from Domestic Abuse Act, calls for strengthening Pennsylvania’s Animal Cruelty Law to increase the penalty when animal abuse happens in a domestic-violence situation. This often occurs when an estranged spouse, or partner (who is under a protection from abuse order) will get back at that individual by hurting or killing their pet in order to inflict emotional harm.
Statistics show that almost half of domestic violence victims have delayed leaving a dangerous situation because they fear for their pet’s safety. Figures provided by the Humane Society of the United States show that those fears are not unfounded, reporting that approximately one million animals are killed or abused in connection to domestic violence each year.
Senate Bill 594 unanimously passed the Senate and is now in the House.
Most recently, Dinniman stood with Senator Rich Alloway in a bipartisan effort to pass “Libre’s Law” (Senate Bill 1372) which calls for increasing the penalty for the cruelty and neglect of companion animals.
The law is named for a puppy that was so neglected that he was near death when he was rescued from a Lancaster County farm. It adds a new classification for offenders who cause the death or serious bodily injury of an animal – one that comes with third-degree felony charges.
In addition, Dinniman has voted for, supports, or has co-sponsored the following bills:
- Senate Bill 373 sets limits for tethering dogs in relation to the length, safety, and fit of the tether, as well as the availability of food, water, shade, and suitable temperature. This legislation has passed the Senate and is currently in the House.
- Senate Bill 573 helps ensure that all Dog Law fines and penalties go to supporting the operations of the Office of Dog Law Enforcement, rather than being diverted to other areas.
- Senate Bill 640 (Prime Sponsor) amends the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to allow therapy dogs on public transportation, including buses and trains.
- Senate Bill 722 directs PennDOT to develop a Spay/Neuter specialty license plate to help fund shelters and humane organizations that offer veterinary clinics for such programs.
- Senate Bill 977 prohibits the confinement of a dog or cat in an unattended motor vehicle during extreme heat or cold. It also gives police and public safety officers the authority to rescue pets in such situations.
- Senate Bill 294 also known as “Cordelia’s Law,” was formed in conjunction with the Farm Bureau to expand penalties for the abandonment and mistreatment of horses. It adds horses to the anti-cruelty statute and adds starvation to the list of abuses. This legislation unanimously passed the Senate and is currently in the House.
“Studies show what pet owners and animals lovers already know – there is a direct connection between how we treat animals and each other,” Dinniman said. “How we treat animals is a reflection of how we treat each other. It is time for Pennsylvania to move forward with commonsense laws to better protect both our pets and our families.”
Finally, Dinniman has partnered with Meals on Wheels of Chester County and the Pennsylvania Veterinary Foundation to establish “Henry’s Helping Paws Fund,” a nonprofit organization that delivers pet food and care items to homebound senior citizens who lack the financial resources to care for their beloved animal companions.
The organization is named for Henry, the Dinniman family’s 9-year-old standard poodle who died in December 2014 and was well-known throughout the Chester County region.
Dinniman said he decided to launch the group when he learned from contacts at Meals on Wheels that some of their clients were splitting their delivered meals with their pets.
“The goal is to keep people and their pets together in their homes,” Dinniman said. “Not only does it have therapeutic value, it also takes the burden off rescue organizations that are overwhelmed with surrendered animals. Already, the organization has assisted dozens of residents in need.”
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Dinniman for Senate
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